A Real Farm!

As I drove into the farm driveway yesterday, taking in the sight of ploughed fields, machinery parked in front of the barn and Will, outside working on the plough, I thought to myself: “Wow, this place is starting to look like a real farm!” This would be as compared to the pretty rural property it was when we first arrived: carefully mowed lawns (thanks to Mom and Dad), no clutter (no one living there) and everything spick and span (thanks to M and D again plus Anne and Paryse leaving it in such a fine state). So now that we are starting to accumulate farm “stuff” and the place is looking busy, it does indeed feel like we are heading in our planned direction: real farm status!

We have done all the ploughing we’ll do for this season. We ran into wet, heavy soil in the last area we worked in which was too heavy to flip and too slippery for the tractor to pull through. We now have enough land to grow a decent amount of cereal grains (wheat for us and barley and oats for the goats) plus start a veggie garden and plant some perennials (raspberries, rhubarb, blueberries) next year. We have plans to plough more next year, mainly to try and combat our heavy goldenrod infestation. According to all the farmers we’ve talked to, our only hope is to plough and cultivate to control the goldenrod or else pull it out by hand. Hmmm, I’m sure my siblings and their families would love to help us on a farm-wide goldenrod hand eradication program next summer!

Will installed new ploughshares and tips on all the plough mouldboards. One tip was missing when we bought it and another fell off the next day and may turn up in the spring when we cultivate. Will ended up grinding all the bolts off to remove the old shares and discovered we were changing them just in the nick of time: the wear had started to go beyond the ploughshare and into another, more expensive, part of the implement. So with its new, shiny, pointy look, we retire the plough for the season. I think some farmers use old oil to cover the mouldboards over the winter to avoid rust. There may be something more ecologically friendly out there to paint them with, or else we’ll just let them accumulate their winter rust coating and then shine them up again when next we plough.

I have just finished reading a book called “Sleeping Naked is Green” by Vanessa Farquharson. Some of you may have heard her interviewed on the CBC. She committed a year to making one “green” change in her life each day and documented this on a blog: http://www.greenasathistle.com. I haven’t read the blog yet but the book is great. Now, you die-hard “greenies” will have to bit your tongues and get past the start of her challenge where her green changes include “switch to a natural, biodegradable hand wash with a recyclable container”, “switch to phosphate-free dishwashing detergent”(like, for an electric dishwasher, eh?) and “use chemical-free, reusable static-cling sheets in the dryer”. Yikes! So, anyway, she eventually gets beyond this dependence on heavy appliances, turns off her fridge, sells her car, stops using toilet paper for number 1, and a few other ecologically friendly changes in her life that impressed me. It is definitely worth a read and may be on a Christmas list for some friends of mine (second-hand copies, of course!).

I am making a batch of feta cheese today. My one goat isn’t giving enough milk for this purpose, though she has been keeping us in milk, yogurt and mozzarella/chevre/paneer (the one gallon of milk cheeses). Feta is a minimum three gallon of milk cheese so I had to find some local goat milk for the purpose. I visited Norm, my new local goat mentor and all-round meat/milk/egg farmer. Norm raises dairy goats, sheep, beef cattle, chickens (eggs and meat), turkeys and rabbits. He does all his own slaughtering on-farm and sells from the farm or at the Dieppe farmer’s market. I am thinking of him as NB’s answer to Joel Solomon (read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) though I don’t think he’s quite as outspoken. Anyway, I managed to buy some fine goat’s milk, plus I’ve reserved a Christmas turkey. Norm’s goats look great, all nice and rounded and a very mellow herd. There wasn’t near as much fighting and pushiness as with my girls. I think it all comes down to good hay (really, most problems in the world can probably be solved by everyone having access to good, healthy, sustainably raised food). I finally managed to find some hay from a neighbor down the road and Will and I loaded 100 bales into the truck (5 trips) to pack into barn for my happy goats. Goats have hay, farmers have cheese – life is good!

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